1. A flashlight
2. A means of durable long-distance communication
3. A radio, to search for signs of distant life, naturally.
At a cost of just $20, the new Nokia 105 rolls all three into one. It is the first bona fide anti-zombie apocalypse mobile phone. It will be the Finnish telecom giant’s cheapest offering yet, and its battery will last up to a month on standby on a single charge—when the outlets are dry, your iPhone is useless in like 8 hours, even if you’re not playing Angry Birds.
The 105 also comes equipped with a flashlight and an FM radio, though no internet access. Clearly, it is a worthy investment for zombie-fleeing humans everywhere.
However, in these pre-apocalyptic times, Nokia is targeting a different demographic—the 2.7 billion people in China, Indonesia, India, and Africa the company estimates do not yet own a mobile phone at all.
CNET gives the phone a pretty favorable review, generally praising its functionality given the rock-bottom price, and noting that it’s expressly designed to persist in non-urban environments: “fewer joints and openings also do a better job protecting internals from the elements.” The cheap phones may prove to be a boon for modernizing economies, if service plans can be held in check and kept affordable.
Meanwhile, advanced societies have come to rely on the rapid information exchange enabled by mobile phones—and as we’ve seen, it doesn’t take total Armageddon to throw them into dysfunction. Hurricane Sandy showed how even denizens of the highest-tech cities in the world can easily be thrown into disarray, basic services going unprovided, forced into forming massive queues in coffee shops and department stores if the lights go out. And as long as we continue to rely on old-fashioned, centralized power, those lights are at constant risk of going out—whether from extreme weather events or, someday, hackers.
As such, keeping an additional phone around the house, for use in case of an incipient dystopia, long suggested by (surprise) phone companies and tech pundits, is looking like an increasingly pragmatic idea. Can’t say the new Nokia phone will actually do the trick, as I haven’t yet actually seen one outside of a screenshot. But I’d be glad to have light, radio, and a month-worth of phone availability when the power goes out and the warlords show up.